Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta… Year Three

Listen To Your Mother: Atlanta… Year Three

Aaah… it’s Listen To Your Mother time!

We’re officially 5 days out from our third Listen To Your Mother Show here in Atlanta. This is it. All the work, sweat, tears, anxiety dreams… it all culminates on Saturday night at Marietta’s New Theatre In The Square.

Thirteen amazing cast members will be sharing their stories of motherhood. We held our final rehearsal yesterday and let me tell you something right now. You do NOT want to miss these stories. These women share hope, heartache, lessons, fears, and yes, even things you just don’t talk about in normal conversation.

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Miranda and I are so thrilled to have Zoë Barracano as our Media Sponsor and photographer. Once again, Lee at Firefly Loft has helped with our design work. And Layla Kelling, Arbonne Independent Consultant is a wonderful Friend of LTYM. We can’t put on our show without the help of our local sponsors. So thank you to these women… give them some love!

One of the most rewarding parts of Listen To Your Mother is the charitable segment. Did you know that each LTYM city chooses a local cause to support through ticket sales? Yes, they do. Ten percent of ticket sales goes directly into a local cause — typically one that helps mothers and children — and our casts fall in love with them.

This year, Miranda and I chose The Drake House, a wonderful organization that is helping women and their children get back on their feet after finding themselves homeless. It’s a growing problem in North Atlanta, which given the image North Atlanta has as being an affluent area, is shocking to most. You can read all about The Drake House on the LTYM: ATL site.

The only thing we are missing that will make this LTYM season complete is YOU.

We need YOU int he audience. Tickets are on sale and going fast. They will sell out, likely before Thursday or Friday. Please get yours now and come support this amazing cast of women!

Your life will be better for having heard their stories. That I can promise.

 Buy Them Here!

The First Thing I Ever Was…

The First Thing I Ever Was…

The first thing I ever was, was a groupie.

Yes, I was born with groupie blood running through my veins. Seriously. It’s a thing.

The Beginning.

My Dad has been in a rock ‘n roll band since I was born. Well, since 1964… way before I was born actually.

For his 17th birthday, he was gifted a 1964 Fender Stratocaster. It was shiny and pristine and brand spanking new. He basically taught himself to play and well, the rest is history.

He started playing lead guitar with The Velvetones and then moved to The Malibu’s (punctuation error on purpose) and later, The Sixpence. This group of guys played together through the end of high school and through college, burning up the roads between Auburn and Athens and Statesboro every weekend.

The Malibu's Fort Valley GA

(L to R), Chris Smisson, Dennis Herbert, Wes Wheeler, David Luckie, Eddie Byrd

The Most Appropriate Nickname.

My Dad is, and always will be, known as “Rock.”

It’s a nickname with two meanings: He plays rock ‘n roll, and he sells diamonds (rocks).

Forever he’s been called this. I’m not sure where it started, but I’m sure there’s a story. Everybody I know refers to him as “Rock” Herbert.

Even now, his grandkids call him Rock. Hell, I even call him Rock.

The Biggest Regret.

You know, they always say you’ll be on your death bed and still have one major regret in life. Any time that’s brought up, my Dad always has the same answer. Turning down the recording contract.

In 1968, around the time The Beatles (formed in 1960)and The Rolling Stones (formed in 1962) and The Who (formed in 1964) were really ramping up in the mainstream music arena, my Dad and his group were offered a recording contract. It came at the end of college for the guys and when big decisions were being made.

Graduation, grad school, jobs, Vietnam, families… all these things played a part in the group turning down a chance to break out and “make it big!”

Sixpence

(top L to R) David Luckie, Eddie Byrd, Dennis Herbert, Mike Jaccino (bottom L to R) Grady Trussell, Wes Wheeler

Every time my Dad sees Mick Jagger or Paul McCartney on stage now, I think he gets a twinge of jealousy. About what could’ve been…

I know if it comes to his last days, and I ask, his answer to “what’s your biggest regret in life” will be turning down a recording contract.

But then again… how would that one decision have changed the trajectory of things? Would I be here? Would Henry be here? Would I be writing this? How would it all have been different?

So regret? Maybe. But would he change it? Probably not.

“My dad’s got a band job that night.”

I never knew life without music in my house or without sometimes having to utter the phrase, “my Dad’s got a band job that night.” It always sounded so ridiculous and normal and by the time I was a teenager, it sounded a little embarrassing, if I’m honest. Friday and Saturday nights, nearly every weekend, my dad was playing somewhere. Usually a wedding or a reunion or a corporate party. During the holidays, sometimes there were 4 or 5 jobs a week — on TOP of the 18 hours a day it took to run our jewelry store during the Christmas season.

During the week, when my sister and I were little, some version of my Dad’s band (add a member, take a member away, rinse, repeat) would practice in our living room. This was around the band called ‘Nightlife’ era. I remember it so vividly. Our house was so tiny, and our living room was literally half of the house. Right smack in the center of the floor was a power outlet. This feature was, honest to god, one of the main reasons my parents bought this house. Usually, a sofa sat on top of it, but on band practice nights, the sofa was scooched away so drums, amplifiers, music stands, and microphones could be set up.

My sister and I would climb around on the drum set like it was a jungle gym. We would hijack the microphones and tambourines and sit in right smack dab in front of the speakers. It was literally a party in our living room. A playground for groupie kids.

Bedtime would come around and they’d still be practicing. We’d be hurried about 15 feet down the hall to our bedrooms where we’d be tucked in and lulled to sleep by David and Donna and Eddie belting out hits like “I Love Rock N Roll” and “Pretty Woman” and “Da Doo Ron Ron.”

Every now and then, there was a gig we were allowed to sneak into. Usually it was one at the Country Club, not a wedding or anything, just a party for the members. Looking back, I realize they must’ve had a blast at these costume parties and New Year’s parties.

My sister and I would spend the night with my Dad’s parents and they would gather us up and take us out to see the band, seemingly before things got too rowdy. I remember specifically going to a few New Year’s Eve parties in my nightgown and coat, with my grandparents still in their wool dress suits, to see them play.

My sister and I would watch and dance and give good night kisses and be quickly scooted back to their house for bed.

Over the years, the band members changed. The types of gigs and music they played changed. They incorporated things like the Macarena and those silly line-dance songs into their set lists. More weddings were played which meant fewer parties for us to crash.

How to be Father-of-the-Bride AND Rock the Lead Guitar.

I think it goes without saying that, growing up as a groupie of your Dad’s band, I wanted them to play at my wedding. So when it was time for me to get married, the first thing I did was book the band. Easiest decision ever.

The logistics were simple: He walked me down the aisle. He danced the father/daugher dance with me. Jason’s friend Greg sat in for him during the first songs. Then he excused himself from the wedding nonsense and went back to his happy place — on the stage with his ’64 Fender Stratocaster in his arms. My mom did what she always did. She danced with everybody on the dance floor and never stopped moving.

When my sister got married, she threw down the gauntlet. She issued a challenge to our Dad that had talked about for years, but never tackled.

“If you’re going to play my wedding reception, you’re going to learn Free Bird.”

And so he did. He got a guy to come over and teach him how to play Free Bird over the course of several months. The first time any of us heard it was at my sister’s wedding. Apparently I missed it while sitting in the air conditioning, looking like a 9 month pregnant version of Barney, and I was so so disappointed.

So I did what any good daughter would do… I asked them to play it again! I remember the look on my dad’s face was like, “What in the heck are you thinking?”

Free Bird

Free Bird

Looking back, I’m not sure how playing it a second time didn’t kill him because that solo y’all? It’s serious business. But he rocked the hell out of it and the place went wild!

Reunited and It Feels So Good

In February of 2001, my sister and I put together a surprise reunion of all the people our Dad had played with over the last (at the time) 35ish years. Daddy had kicked thyroid cancer’s butt and during that time we realized ALL the guys and gals who had played with them over the years, were still alive. What better time to get them all together.

We gathered every old band member we could find, sold nearly 400 tickets without my Dad knowing a thing about it, and on the morning of the party, a column ran in the local paper about him. Ed Grisamore, in the way only Ed Grisamore can do, honored him with his words and then broke the surprise that THAT NIGHT, there would be a gathering of his former bandmates, closest friends, and it would be a huge party!

Shortly after that reunion, one of the original members of the band was killed in a plane crash. Not long after, another died. The timing of the reunion? Was perfect.

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Band Reunion, February 2001

Fifty Years of Music.

On February 27, 2016, the original Malibu’s and Sixpence (one member no longer with us), gathered to play a sold-out crowd of 700++ in Perry, GA. This marked 50(ish) years since the band had gotten going and even though I wasn’t there in the beginning (duh) I can’t imagine they played much better in the 60’s than they did that Saturday night.

For months, the guys had been getting together to practice. They decided to only play songs that they played back in the day.

The amazing part about this party is that some of these people hadn’t heard them play since high school. My sister and I were blessed with the ability to hear them play, just about whenever we wanted to.

They were born as a garage band, practicing in their parents’ garages growing up. Their friends would come for lemonade and to watch them practice. They could hear them play at the Teen Club or the American Legion. But once they all parted ways, unless they happened to be at a wedding or reunion or party where they played, their friends could only pull up their memories of what The Malibu’s and The Sixpence sounded like.

Until this reunion.

I’m not kidding when I tell you it took 27 seconds for the dance floor to fill. For 3 hours, there was not a single minute where you could walk through the dance floor because it was so incredibly packed. People had the best time.

As far as us, well, it was amazing. Our kids, my cousins’ kids… most had never seen him play. They were awestruck and had the most fantastic time!

This was a certainly a night where all were welcome and all were entertained!

[]

 

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Fulfilling my status as daughter/groupie, once I mingled and had a drink or two, I found my spot at the front of the crowd, next to Grady’s daughter, and danced my behind off with my crazy friend Amy. And in true groupie fashion, during the encore, Gretchen and I took a chance by running on stage to dance with our Daddies to “Be Young, Be Foolish.”

Because really, y’all? If you can’t do that?

What’s the point of having groupie blood flowing through you?

4 Things, About 4 Things, About Disney

4 Things, About 4 Things, About Disney

The weekend of February 18-21 was the Princess Half Marathon weekend at Walt Disney World. For the fourth year, I’ve been part of the weekend with Team RMHC — a charity team benefiting the Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia in Macon. I’ve typically gone down with girl friends who are also running the race, but this year, I took Neil.

That made things a little different, but way fun! Since there were multiple angles to look at on this trip, I’m going to present it in a 4×4 form. Four things, about four things, about Disney. Follow me?

Teamwork

  1. Part of what I love about Princess Half weekend is running (ha) it with Team RMHC. For those who don’t know, The Ronald McDonald House of Central Georgia is an official runDisney charity and gathers a team from across the country to run with them. This year, we were honored to have 120+ team members and raised $100k+.
  2. This was my 4th year running with Team RMHC. I say running like I actually ran this year. No. I walked the 10k this time, though I did “run” across the finish line, simply for the photo! Over those 4 years, I (we — all of you mostly) have raised nearly $11,000 for the Ronald McDonald House in Macon. That’s unbelievable! Thank you!
  3. One of the most fun parts of running with Team RMHC is getting to finally meet all of the runners. I do the communications for the team and get to know the runners via Facebook and email, but it isn’t until we actually meet that we go “AAAHHH!!!” and get excited about putting a name with a face!
  4. I loved being able to introduce Neil to the Ronald McDonald House work I do. I don’t think he truly understood what I meant when I said “I have to work while I’m there” until we got there and greeted people in the Hospitality Suite. Then he got it. And then we did a lot of acting goofy in the hospitality suite! Like this:

Racing

  1. I LOVE racing at Disney. Mostly because it’s not really a race. It’s an event! An event with people (mostly women in this race) of all ages, all races, all sizes, and all skill levels. There are some slow runners/walkers and some are speed demons, but it somehow feels like an even playing field.
  2. Running at Disney is exhausting. There are 3am wake up calls and 5:30am start times and lots of walking and lots of talking and it’s so so exhausting. I wonder if “exhilarating” is a by-product of “exhausting” because at Disney, it sure feels like it.
  3. The Cast Members of the Disney Parks come out in droves to cheer the runners on. This is one of the most fun parts to me, other than seeing the costumes (I don’t ever dress up really). They’re out bright and early, well before the parks open, spreading Disney Magic around with clappers, big Mickey hands, high fives, and great signs!
  4. A Disney finish is a strong finish. Always. No matter how little you’ve trained or how sick from heat stroke you are. You ALWAYS feel filled with Pixie Dust when you’re done. Like this:

Romance

  1. Going to Disney World as an adult, with no children, is something every person needs to do. I’d go so far as to say, if you’re dating someone who hasn’t been to WDW since before Epcot was built, you should definitely do that! Because, hello! That’s so fun!
  2. Selfies around the World in Epcot? Perfect. Somebody (no names mentioned) said he hated it, but secretly loved it. I mean, it’s kinda cool when somebody takes you on a weekend trip around the world, right? Epcot Collage
  3. Magic Kingdom was the same as always: Magical. It was neat doing all the cheesy things there are to do there. You know, like riding the Peoplemover, sitting through the Carousel of Progress, going to the Enchanted Tiki Room, and seeing the compelling and moving Country Bear Jamboree. Really, those cheesy attractions are simply hand-holding avenues at Magic Kingdom. Kinda like the Haunted Mansion is.
  4. You know what’s super sweet and romantic? When your (Ok, fine, I’ll say it out loud) boyfriend who hates to get up early, wakes up and takes a bus to an insane race area and waits for several hours at the finish line of the 10k you’re running. Gold star for Neil, I say. Because it was so so fun to cross the finish line and see him while I was getting my medal! Here’s his capture of me: Finish

Inspiration

I always leave Disney feeling energized and inspired. Exhausted, but also feeling like I’m full of life and excitement! This time I left inspired to do the following:

  1. I want to run again. Not half marathons, but I’d love to be able to bring Henry and have us run the 10k together next year.
  2. I want to feel like I can write again. There’s so much in my head itching to get out, and yet it’s stuck in some other space between my brain and my fingers.
  3. I want to make a difference somewhere. I know I make a difference with Ronald McDonald House and GBS Awareness. But there has to be something else… something new and more that needs what I have to offer.
  4. I need to continue on doing what I’m doing. Living a low-key, barely scheduled, easy-going life. I want to love big and live simply. I want to continue to be me.

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2016: Filling My Life With Passion

2016: Filling My Life With Passion

Passion: noun – a strong feeling of enthusiasm or excitement for something or about doing something

Passion. It’s been right there, right under the surface, tickling my skin to get out. It’s been on the horizon, waiting, lurking, stalking me until I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

The word has been taunting me for weeks. I’ve made lists of options for this year’s word that will, hopefully, guide me through the 366 days of 2016. None of the words stuck out like passion. They just didn’t grab me by the arm and run through a field of poppies with me like PASSION did.

It basically chose itself.

But if I had to guess, passion does that. When you have it and it infiltrates every part of your life, it chooses its own path and guides you along.

This year, I want to parent with passion. I want to love with passion. I want to be passionate about work and maybe even find that *thing* that fills my soul.

In looking back over the past years, I can say that the words that I’ve chosen to guide my year have impacted my life. They’ve become little guys that sit on my shoulder like those good angel/bad angel guys in cartoons. And even years later, they stick with me.

So here’s to adding Passion to the growing list of life-guiding words.

2015WordPassion

 

(Adding this to Nicole’s One Word post)

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

2015: The Gloriously Weird Year of Finding Myself, Divorcing, and Turning 40

What a weird year this has been.

I mean, I knew it was weird, but then looking back through my photos and calendar… wow. It’s been a doozy.

I’ve been rather quiet here over the course of 2015, my words few and far between. Much has gone on that hasn’t been for public consumption. My (now) ex-husband and I have never made our private matters public, especially in this space, so starting now would have been odd. When we decided very early this year to separate, that things weren’t ok, my words left me. My mind was on overdrive and well, elsewhere.

The year started very restlessly. I was restless and unsettled. I was unhappy. He was unhappy. And in somewhat of short order, all things considered, we remedied it with separation and then divorce. Not that it’s anybody’s business, but none of this life-changing event was a spur of the moment decision. There was talk and therapy and energy sessions and crying and rethinking and in the end, our guts and hearts won out. We knew what we had to do.

Jason and I are better friends now than we have been in years, probably. He’s still my cheerleader and I’m still his. We spend holidays together and do things as a family, because let’s be honest, we always will be one. We share children and memories and grief and joys that only the two of us can ever share. We want the best for each other. We are so much better for Henry this way and our only goals are for him and for each of us to be happy. That’s all anybody wants, right?

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I want to take you on a journey through 2015, though.

Let’s talk while we walk through the year, shall we?

January 2015

January 2015

January was kicked off with a Resolution Run with Sharon that I believe we both resolved to never EVER again run. It’s miraculous we survived. Henry won “Cubmaster’s Choice” at the Pinewood Derby for best looking car. Yes, it’s sushi. No, it’s not edible. Yes, it’s badass.

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February 2015

Oh, February. Jason and I decided over Valentine’s Dinner that we should separate. We’d been back and forth on it, but Valentine’s dinner, while everybody was oohing and aahing over each other at the two-top tables around us, we decided we had to do it. And then we toasted each other. Weird.

Miranda and I held auditions for the Listen To Your Mother Show and I finished my 4th half marathon. Barely. Let’s not discuss the race, but instead let me say how much fun I had with Rachel, Sharon, and Melissa that weekend (and #TeamRMHC)!

The Toomer’s Oaks were replanted in Auburn and we headed over for that big occasion. And then it snowed. And the city of Atlanta shut down.

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March 2015

March saw us figuring out the logistics and details of our separation. We were still living together because of those logistics. That may have been the strangest period of the whole deal. Knowing that you’re apart, but you’re still in the same house. We had distractions, though. Scout things, the boys camping, my niece and I going to NYC to celebrate her birthday. Jasmine and I had the best time! Columbia, Serendipity, Shopping, Broadway!

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April 2015

And then there was April. I don’t think I was even at home during April. Ten days after being in NYC with Jasmine, I was back for the Listen To Your Mother book launch. How much fun was THIS? It was such an amazing 24 hours, I don’t even know where to start! So I won’t bother. But it was amazing to hang out with Neil and Alexandra, Ann, Taya, Melisa… the list goes on. It was a 24 hour trip but so much good was squeezed in!

Then we had our second Listen To Your Mother Show in Atlanta. Which was so beautiful. We had a fantastic cast of 13 women who delivered some of the most heartfelt stories I’ve ever heard. So thrilled to bring it back this next April.

Then there was drinking (much) bourbon with Vikki (and others) at Mom2.0 and visiting with my friend Andrea in Phoenix. Such a busy month!

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May 2015

Basically, in May, I had superpowers that would make me lazy and we celebrated what would have been Charlie’s 12th birthday. May was apparently the opposite of April!

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June 2015

June saw a new family of ducks in our pond out back, a weekend with the girls, and a trip to my sister’s. So clearly “family” was the theme!

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July 2015

July is Peach Month. That’s when the best peaches are available. So we ate them almost right off the tree. I don’t think I’ve eaten as many peaches before as I did this past summer. Henry went to Camp Winnataska again and loved it.

I spent a weekend in NYC again, this time with Neil. I guess you could say this was about when our long time friendship was turning into more than just friendship. (Again, not really anybody’s business, but Jason and I agreed that we could date people while we were separated. So we both did.)

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August 2015

Back to School, with a saxaphone, in August. Plus another trip to NYC and just doing life, one day at a time. We decided to file for divorce.

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September 2015

September was obviously full of fun because the only picture worth posting was of flowers I bought myself at Whole Foods. Which means I paid way too much for them, but whatever, they’re gorgeous and made me feel good. Jason and I, still married technically, celebrated our 17th anniversary with a high five and a PBR because we’re classy like that.

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October 2015

Football game with my mom and Henry. Type A Conference in Atlanta. Henry got a job walking the dog next door after school. Neil came to Atlanta for a long weekend. And I donned a blue wig for Halloween. Oh, October!

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November 2015

November started off with Henry’s 11th birthday party. Another Game Truck party which is God’s gift to moms across the country or wherever Game Trucks are. Seriously. They back in and open the doors and PARTY!

In November, I watched one of my dearest friends say “I do” to the man she loves. I taught my niece how to properly watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. And while at my sister’s house for Thanksgiving, my family celebrated my 40th birthday (a little early).

November 18, our final divorce decree was signed and stamped and official. Again, we celebrated with a high five.

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December 2015

Oh, December. Henry and I found and loved and decorated our own tree. We did it all by ourselves and were so super proud! We made a few new traditions in the process.

I celebrated my FORTIETH birthday on December 9. (I know, I don’t look a day over 27) I was in New York with Neil and we celebrated at dinner with some friends we both know through blogging and Listen To Your Mother. It was such a fun night and weekend.

Christmas came, on schedule. Santa came. Jason joined us and we Christmassed together and it was nice. We had clearly been good this year. I guess Santa liked how well we’ve handled ourselves throughout the year.

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This past year has taught me some things. Mostly that my gut and my heart are always right. I’m grateful to my energy healer and the therapist I briefly saw, for helping me realize the difference between what my heart was telling me and what my head was telling me. Often, your head tells you the easy thing, not the thing that will make you the happiest and take the most courage.

At the end of the day, 2015 was absolutely glorious, and taught me that I’m far more brave and far more resilient than I ever dreamed. I’m not scared of being a single mom. I’m not scared of not being able to live the life I’ve lived for the last 17 years. I’m certainly not scared of the future. I’m excited. Super. Freaking. Excited. Do I know what it holds? Hell no. Do you? If so, I’d like for you to read my palm and tell me some lottery numbers!

I’m ushering in 2016 knowing that anything — ANYthing — can happen. It may be amazing or it may be mundane, but it will be done my way. It will be full of so many things and I plan to do them all with passion and mindfulness and the realization that THIS moment IS life. I only get one and I plan to make it good.

So cheers to a fresh slate, a new decade of life, a blank page in a new notebook, and a new pen.

Let’s do this, 2016.

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